Past exhibition: Friend or Faux

Imitation and Invention, from Innocent to Fraudulent
From 11/11/2009 to 07/11/2010

Friend or Faux: Imitation and Invention from Innocent to Fraudulent explores the notion of authenticity across a range of periods and media in the museum’s collections. From innocent copies of artwork made as family mementos to illegal forgeries intended to fool even the most seasoned scholar, there are stories to be told: How do we know the difference? Who is an expert? How does a museum value each kind of copy over time, and does the marketplace value them differently? Are stories about fakes more appealing than those about originals?

Friend or Faux is presented across two galleries and brings together approximately three dozen paintings, manuscripts, books, and decorative arts objects from the museum’s collection, some of which were acquired with full knowledge of their history and some which may have fooled even the museum’s founders and curators.

The exhibit features commentary by experts from outside the Rosenbach. Three of these are presented as audio tracks (MP3 format). MP3 players are available to borrow at the museum, but if you would like to load these tracks onto your own media device they are available for download in the zip folder on this page.


Friend or Faux is curated by Curator and Director of Collections Judy Guston, Librarian Elizabeth E. Fuller, and Curatorial Assistant Kathy Haas. Special thanks to expert consultants Nicholas Barker, Jack Lynch, Edward Redmond, Jude Robison, Carol Soltis, and Anne Verplanck. Exhibition design by Steve Tucker.